Gay-Aimed 'Here! TV’ Goes Premium

Here! TV, formerly just an on-demand and pay-per-view service targeting gay audiences, last week launched as a 24-hour premium network.

The linear mini-pay channel is now available to distributors, debuting right on schedule Oct. 1. Here! TV plans to announce its first major carriage deal for that round-the-clock network later this month, CEO Paul Colichman said.

“It is up as a 24-hour service,” he said, adding that the feed was up on a satellite. “We’re very pleased with our progress.”

Colichman said pricing for the 24-hour premium channel will vary, but didn’t offer specifics. He said the linear network will have “simply more programming” than the video on demand, subscription VOD and PPV offerings.

Here! TV’s SVOD service includes new theatricals, Colichman said. The 24-hour network will also air library product, including titles acquired from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (such as My Beautiful Launderette) in September.

The 24-hour Here! feed is using the Playboy Channel model: subscribers can buy a program block or upgrade to the 24-hour linear feed for a monthly subscription fee.

Whereas Logo — the 24-hour network for gay audiences MTV Networks will roll out in February — can launch on digital tiers, independent Here! TV lacks Viacom Inc.’s clout and distribution leverage. That’s one reason Here! TV is going the mini-pay route.

Also, most cable operators claim they don’t want more basic channels, and the kind of content Colichman wants on Here! TV isn’t appropriate for basic cable. It’s “not adult content, it’s not erotica, but it is designed for a mature audience that pays for it and wants it,” he said.

The on-demand Here! TV is available to about 25 million subscribers. DirecTV Inc. and Dish Network offer it on PPV and RCN Corp. carries it as an SVOD service. Here! TV’s varied on-demand services are available to cable via InDemand and TVN, with Time Warner Cable in Wisconsin among those offering the VOD service.

On-demand pricing is in the neighborhood of $3.99 to $9.99.

Another premium service targeting the gay audience, Q Television Network, is slated to start doing live programming Oct. 14, CEO Frank Olsen said. Priced at $7.95 a month, it will be producing a three-hour live weeknight block, including a two-hour talk program and a sports show, that will get repeat airings.

Q Television is carried by RCN Corp. in San Francisco, and last week began being carried by all RCN’s systems, Olsen said. The network also has a hunting license carriage deal with Time Warner Cable.